Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 22:19 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 22:19 | SYDNEY

Nuclear policy: On the same page


Rory Medcalf


13 October 2009 15:46

The Lowy Institute poll, out today, suggests that three-quarters of Australians agree — many of them strongly — that nuclear disarmament should be a top policy priority. This would place Australian public opinion in accord with President Obama's aspirations, pursued most recently through an historic UN Security Council summit.

Hugh White may be right to say that the hard political steps on American nuclear disarmament have not yet been taken, but like a realist version of the Nobel jury, he is being seriously premature in judging where all this will end.

Meanwhile, other countries have hard decisions ahead of them too. With the Australian-Japanese International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND) finalising a major report, Canberra and Tokyo are going to have to consider some tough policy questions soon about their real attitude to nuclear weapons and the US nuclear umbrella. Canberra will also have to stop pretending that the global nuclear energy debate is none of its business.

So it is timely that the Lowy Institute is expanding its coverage of the nuclear field. The Institute has now consolidated its relevant work in a new web page, the Nuclear Policy Centre. Our aim is to make this the authoritative resource for analysis and policy thinking on nuclear challenges facing Australia and the Asia-Pacific, both with regard to weapons and the civilian nuclear sector.

Fresh items on this page include publications on North Asia's nuclear security dilemmas, prospects for Australia and India to work together to reduce nuclear dangers, and, in a first for the Institute, a video-recorded panel discussion, on whether President Obama's vision for a nuclear-weapon-free world is realistic and desirable.

There is also a lecture by Lowy's Deputy Director Martine Letts on the prospects for involving civil nuclear industry in non-proliferation, informed by her work on this subject for the ICNND. We have added a link to the recent report of an Australian parliamentary committee, which drew considerably on testimony by Lowy Institute staff. And the page also carries a wealth of earlier material, such as the late Andrew Symon's groundbreaking survey of Southeast Asian nuclear energy ambitions (which, we suspect, inspired the latest IISS strategic dossier).

The Institute is receiving recognition and support for its work in this area from a range of external sources, notably the Nuclear Security Project.

We look forward to reader feedback on our activities on nuclear issues as the work – and its relevance — continues to grow.

Photo by Flickr user, used under a Creative Commons license.